Trust encourages loyalty in team members: If you have my back, I’ll have yours. Anytime trust between you and a team member is broken, any loyalty that existed is damaged. Once seriously damaged, it can be a lengthy process to rebuild trust. It could be impossible.
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, it’s likely you understand the detrimental effects a lack of trust and loyalty exert on your culture, the success of your operation, and overall happiness. You also might have insights into the tremendous benefits trusting and loyal team members bring to your customers and company.
As the leader of your company, team member trust and loyalty begins with you.
When team members are mistreated, their trust for and loyalty to the leader and organization are compromised. Examples include not listening to team members, speaking in a derogatory or condescending manner, demeaning or humiliating a team member in front of others, not paying them what you agreed or what they’re worth and failing to appreciate and recognize quality work. If these actions go on repeatedly, trust and loyalty will be destroyed.
Taking advantage of and using people for personal gain constitutes another way to damage and even destroy professional relationships. Repeatedly pressuring or demanding a team member put in more and more time, perform additional tasks and go above and beyond without meaningful recognition, verbal appreciation or even financial rewards creates mistrust and disloyalty. People don’t respond well to being used.
Breaking your promises and lying to a team member represents yet another way to harm loyalty. Lying to someone doesn’t foster trust. Doing so demonstrates you can’t be trusted. If you string people along and make promises you don’t intend to keep to get more out of them, they’ll turn against you and the company.
Remember occasions when you were mistreated and how you felt, how it damaged the trust and loyalty you once had and how it changed your perspective of that person and the company they represented.
When you treat people with dignity and respect — as human beings and not merely cogs in your business —you nurture trust and loyalty. Just like you, team members want to be treated fairly. When they are, in most cases they’ll return the favor.
As you value your team members, they’ll value you and your business to a greater degree. Most people who go to a safe and supported work environment are appreciative. They want to be there, give more of themselves and work to preserve what they enjoy. Creating a friendly and supportive work environment strengthens trust and loyalty.
Impeccability of your word — saying what you mean and meaning what you say — goes a long way in building trust and loyalty. Don’t lie to team members. And when you make a promise, do everything in your power to keep it. If you can’t, make sure to let them know why so they’ll understand and see you did your best.
Providing team members with opportunities to learn new skills, take on more important tasks, and advance within your business instills trust and loyalty, too. This demonstrates you believe in them, recognize and appreciate their time and effort and, perhaps most importantly, confirms you care.
Trust and loyalty are a two-way street. Sometimes you can be the most integrity-based, supportive, fair and opportunity giving business owners and team members will still take actions that damage or destroy your trust and loyalty in them. This is rarely the case, though, when you hire effectively and foster these things in them first. It’s a wise decision to let go those team members who don’t lend themselves to trust and loyalty.
When your leadership fosters trust and loyalty, your people will return the favor, usually to an even greater degree. The benefit to you and your customers when you build a culture of trust and loyalty with your team members is tremendous.